Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Two Black Holes Dancing in 3C 75

    09/27/2014 9:50:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | September 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening at the center of active galaxy 3C 75? The two bright sources at the center of this composite x-ray (blue)/ radio (pink) image are co-orbiting supermassive black holes powering the giant radio source 3C 75. Surrounded by multimillion degree x-ray emitting gas, and blasting out jets of relativistic particles the supermassive black holes are separated by 25,000 light-years. At the cores of two merging galaxies in the Abell 400 galaxy cluster they are some 300 million light-years away. Astronomers conclude that these two supermassive black holes are bound together by gravity in a binary system in part...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Launch and a Landing

    09/27/2014 9:46:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | September 27, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Taken from an Atlantic beach, Cape Canaveral, planet Earth, four identically framed digital images are combined in this night skyscape. Slightly shifted short star trails dot the sky, but the exposure times were adjusted to follow the flight of a Falcon 9 rocket. The September 21 launch delivered a Dragon X capsule filled with supplies to the International Space Station. Above the bright flare seen just after launch, the rocket's first stage firing trails upward from the left. After separation, the second stage burn begins near center with the vehicle climbing toward low Earth orbit. At the horizon, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- MAVEN at Mars

    09/27/2014 9:45:04 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 26, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Launched on November 18, 2013, the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft completed its interplanetary voyage September 21, captured into a wide, elliptical orbit around Mars. MAVEN's imaging ultraviolet spectrograph has already begun its planned exploration of the Red Planet's upper atmosphere, acquiring this image data from an altitude of 36,500 kilometers. In false color, the three ultraviolet wavelength bands show light reflected from atomic hydrogen (in blue), atomic oxygen (in green) and the planet's surface (in red). Low mass atomic hydrogen is seen to extend thousands of kilometers into space, with the cloud of more massive oxygen...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 206 and the Star Clouds of Andromeda

    09/27/2014 9:40:49 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The large stellar association cataloged as NGC 206 is nestled within the dusty arms of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. Also known as M31, the spiral galaxy is a mere 2.5 million light-years away. NGC 206 is near top center in this gorgeous close-up of the southwestern extent of Andromeda's disk, a remarkable composite of data from space and ground-based observatories. The bright, blue stars of NGC 206 indicate its youth. In fact, its youngest massive stars are less than 10 million years old. Much larger than the open or galactic clusters of young stars in the disk of our...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Lagoon Nebula in Stars Dust and Gas

    09/27/2014 9:37:39 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. A bright knot...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora and Volcanic Light Pillar

    09/27/2014 9:35:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: That's no sunset. And that thin red line just above it -- that's not a sun pillar. The red glow on the horizon originates from a volcanic eruption, and the red line is the eruption's reflection from fluttering atmospheric ice crystals. This unusual volcanic light pillar was captured over Iceland earlier this month. The featured scene looks north from Jökulsárlón toward the erupting volcano Bárðarbunga in the Holuhraun lava field. Even the foreground sky is picturesque, with textured grey clouds in the lower atmosphere, shimmering green aurora in the upper atmosphere, and bright stars far in the distance. Although...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earth at Equinox

    09/27/2014 9:33:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Earth is at equinox. Over the next 24 hours, day and night have nearly equal duration all over planet Earth. Technically, equinox transpires at 2:29 am Universal Time tomorrow, but this occurs today in North and South America. This September equinox signal that winter is approaching in the northern hemisphere, and summer is approaching in the south. At equinox, the dividing line between the sunlit half of Earth and the nighttime half of Earth temporarily passes through Earth's north and south spin poles. This dividing line is shown in clear detail in the featured video, taken by the Russian...
  • Vatican astronomer: Just a matter of time until life found in universe

    09/21/2014 2:45:14 PM PDT · by NYer · 76 replies
    cns ^ | September 19, 2014 | Dennis Sadowski
    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, the new president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, has no doubt that life exists elsewhere in the universe and that when humanity discovers it, the news will come as no big surprise. He suggested that the likely discovery -- whether next month or a millennium from now -- will be received much the way that news of planets orbiting far off stars has filtered in since the 1990s. "The general public is going to be, 'Oh, I knew that. I knew it was going to be there,'" Brother Consolmagno told Catholic News...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn at Equinox

    09/21/2014 6:35:14 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How would Saturn look if its ring plane pointed right at the Sun? Before August 2009, nobody knew. Every 15 years, as seen from Earth, Saturn's rings point toward the Earth and appear to disappear. The disappearing rings are no longer a mystery -- Saturn's rings are known to be so thin and the Earth is so near the Sun that when the rings point toward the Sun, they also point nearly edge-on at the Earth. Fortunately, in this third millennium, humanity is advanced enough to have a spacecraft that can see the rings during equinox from the side....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Shoreline of the Universe

    09/20/2014 12:38:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Against dark rifts of interstellar dust, the ebb and flow of starlight along the Milky Way looks like waves breaking on a cosmic shore in this night skyscape. Taken with a digital camera from the dunes of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, planet Earth, the monochrome image is reminiscent of the time when sensitive black and white film was a popular choice for dimmly lit night- and astro-photography. Looking south, the bright stars of Sagittarius and Scorpius are near the center of the frame. Wandering Mars, Saturn, and Zubenelgenubi (Alpha Librae) form the compact triangle of bright celestial beacons farther...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Potentially Habitable Moons

    09/20/2014 12:35:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 31 replies
    NASA ^ | September 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: For astrobiologists, these may be the four most tantalizing moons in our Solar System. Shown at the same scale, their exploration by interplanetary spacecraft has launched the idea that moons, not just planets, could have environments supporting life. The Galileo mission to Jupiter discovered Europa's global subsurface ocean of liquid water and indications of Ganymede's interior seas. At Saturn, the Cassini probe detected erupting fountains of water ice from Enceladus indicating warmer subsurface water on even that small moon, while finding surface lakes of frigid but still liquid hydrocarbons beneath the dense atmosphere of large moon Titan. Now looking...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cocoon Nebula Wide Field

    09/20/2014 12:30:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | September 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this crowded starfield covering over 2 degrees within the high flying constellation Cygnus, the eye is drawn to the Cocoon Nebula. A compact star forming region, the cosmic Cocoon punctuates a long trail of obscuring interstellar dust clouds. Cataloged as IC 5146, the nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 4,000 light years away. Like other star forming regions, it stands out in red, glowing, hydrogen gas excited by the young, hot stars and blue, dust-reflected starlight at the edge of an otherwise invisible molecular cloud. In fact, the bright star near the center of this nebula...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora over Maine

    09/20/2014 12:27:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It has been a good week for auroras. Earlier this month active sunspot region 2158 rotated into view and unleashed a series of flares and plasma ejections into the Solar System during its journey across the Sun's disk. In particular, a pair of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) impacted the Earth's magnetosphere toward the end of last week, creating the most intense geomagnetic storm so far this year. Although power outages were feared by some, the most dramatic effects of these impacting plasma clouds were auroras seen as far south as Wisconsin, USA. In the featured image taken last Friday...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way above Atacama Salt Lagoon

    09/20/2014 12:24:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Galaxies, stars, and a serene reflecting pool combine to create this memorable land and skyscape. The featured panorama is a 12-image mosaic taken last month from the Salar de Atacama salt flat in northern Chile. The calm water is Laguna Cejar, a salty lagoon featuring a large central sinkhole. On the image left, the astrophotographer's fiancee is seen capturing the same photogenic scene. The night sky is lit up with countless stars, the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies on the left, and the band of our Milky Way galaxy running diagonally up the right. The Milky Way may...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 62 Kilometers above Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    09/14/2014 10:40:53 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | September 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spacecraft Rosetta continues to approach, circle, and map Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Crossing the inner Solar System for ten years to reach the vicinity of the comet last month, the robotic spacecraft continues to image the unusual double-lobed comet nucleus. The reconstructed-color image featured, taken about 10 days ago, indicates how dark this comet nucleus is. On the average, the comet's surface reflects only about four percent of impinging visible light, making it as dark as coal. Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko spans about four kilometers in length and has a surface gravity so low that an astronaut could jump off of it. In...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M27: The Dumbbell Nebula

    09/13/2014 9:28:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | September 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier's list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core. M27 is one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky, and can be seen toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) with binoculars. It takes light about 1000 years to reach us...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Median Mashup: Hubble's Top 100

    09/13/2014 12:42:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Now, as you sip your cosmic latte you can view 100 Hubble Space Telescope images at the same time. The popular scenes of the cosmos as captured from low Earth orbit are all combined into this single digital presentation. To make it, Hubble's top 100 images were downloaded and resized to identical pixel dimensions. At each point the 100 pixel values were arranged from lowest to highest, and the middle or median value was chosen for the final image. The combined image results in a visual abstraction - light from across the Universe surrounded by darkness.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supernova Remnant Puppis A

    09/13/2014 12:40:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Driven by the explosion of a massive star, supernova remnant Puppis A is blasting into the surrounding interstellar medium about 7,000 light-years away. At that distance, this remarkable false-color exploration of its complex expansion is about 180 light-years wide. It is based on the most complete X-ray data set so far from the Chandra and XMM/Newton observations, and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. In blue hues, the filamentary X-ray glow is from gas heated by the supernova's shock wave, while the infrared emission shown in red and green is from warm dust. The bright pastel tones trace...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Zodiacal Light before Dawn

    09/13/2014 12:36:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | September 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: You might not guess it, but sunrise was still hours away when this nightscape was taken, a view along the eastern horizon from a remote location in Chile's Atacama desert. Stretching high into the otherwise dark, starry sky the unusually bright conical glow is sunlight though, scattered by dust along the solar system's ecliptic plane . Known as Zodiacal light, the apparition is also nicknamed the "false dawn". Near center, bright star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster seem immersed in the Zodiacal light, with Orion toward the right edge of the frame. Reddish emission from NGC 1499, the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster of Galaxies

    09/13/2014 12:33:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | September 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is not only one of the largest structures known -- it is our home. The just-identified Laniakea Supercluster of galaxies contains thousands of galaxies that includes our Milky Way Galaxy, the Local Group of galaxies, and the entire nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. The colossal supercluster is shown in the above computer-generated visualization, where green areas are rich with white-dot galaxies and white lines indicate motion towards the supercluster center. An outline of Laniakea is given in orange, while the blue dot shows our location. Outside the orange line, galaxies flow into other galatic concentrations. The Laniakea Supercluster...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Aurora Cupcake with a Milky Way Topping

    09/13/2014 12:30:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This sky looked delicious. Double auroral ovals were captured above the town lights of Östersund, Sweden, last week. Pictured above, the green ovals occurred lower to the ground than violet aurora rays above, making the whole display look a bit like a cupcake. To top it off, far in the distance, the central band or our Milky Way Galaxy slants down from the upper left. The auroras were caused by our Sun ejecting plasma clouds into the Solar System just a few days before, ionized particles that subsequently impacted the magnetosphere of the Earth. Aurora displays may continue this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Super Moon vs. Micro Moon

    09/13/2014 12:28:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | September 08, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is so super about tomorrow's supermoon? Tomorrow, a full moon will occur that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual. The reason is that the Moon's fully illuminated phase occurs within a short time from perigee - when the Moon is its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Although the precise conditions that define a supermoon vary, given one definition, tomorrow's will be the third supermoon of the year -- and the third consecutive month that a supermoon occurs. One reason supermoons are popular is because they are so easy to see -- just go outside...
  • When Will Betelgeuse Explode? (Constellation Orion)

    09/11/2014 6:32:08 AM PDT · by C19fan · 34 replies
    Slate ^ | September 8, 2014 | Phil Plait
    If there’s one star in the sky people know about, it’s Betelgeuse.* Marking the right shoulder of the hunter Orion—remember, he’s facing us, so it’s on our left—this orange-red star is one of the brightest in the night sky. It’s been studied for as long as we’ve had telescopes, yet for all our advanced technology and knowhow, details about it are maddeningly vague. We don’t even have a good determination of how far away it is! Still, there’s a lot we do know: It’s a red supergiant, a star that started out life already a lot bigger, more massive, and...
  • Stephen Hawking warns God particle has potential to 'end world' [Universe in DANGER!]

    09/08/2014 10:30:06 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 113 replies
    timesofindia.indiatimes.com ^ | Sep 8, 2014, 12.32 PM IST | Staff
    LONDON: Stephen Hawking has recently warned that the God particle or Higgs boson has the potential to obliterate the universe. The 72-year-old cosmologist said Higgs boson could become unstable at very high energy levels, which would lead to a "catastrophic vacuum decay" causing space and time to collapse and that there would not be any warning to the danger, the Daily Express reported. Speaking in the preface to a new book called Starmus, the Cambridge-educated scientist said that the Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become mega-stable at energies above 100bn giga-electron-volts (GeV). However, Hawking did also...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Full Moon Silhouettes

    09/06/2014 10:10:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever watched the Moon rise? The slow rise of a nearly full moon over a clear horizon can be an impressive sight. One impressive moonrise was imaged in early 2013 over Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand. With detailed planning, an industrious astrophotographer placed a camera about two kilometers away and pointed it across the lookout to where the Moon would surely soon be making its nightly debut. The above single shot sequence is unedited and shown in real time -- it is not a time lapse. People on Mount Victoria Lookout can be seen in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moonbow Beach

    09/06/2014 4:52:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 06, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Like a rainbow at night, a beautiful moonbow shines above the western horizon in this deserted beach scene from Molokai Island, Hawaii, USA, planet Earth. Captured last June 17 in early morning hours, the lights along the horizon are from Honolulu and cities on the island of Oahu some 30 miles away. So where was the Moon? A rainbow is produced by sunlight internally reflected in rain drops from the direction opposite the Sun back toward the observer. As the light passes from air to water and back to air again, longer wavelengths are refracted (bent) less than shorter...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sagittarius Starscape

    09/06/2014 4:49:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 05, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This rich starscape spans nearly 7 degrees on the sky, toward the Sagittarius spiral arm and the center of our Milky Way galaxy. A telescopic mosaic, it features well-known bright nebulae and star clusters cataloged by 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier. Still popular stops for skygazers M16, the Eagle (far right), and M17, the Swan (near center) nebulae are the brightest star-forming emission regions. With wingspans of 100 light-years or so, they shine with the telltale reddish glow of hydrogen atoms from over 5,000 light-years away. Colorful open star cluster M25 near the upper left edge of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cloud, Clusters and

    09/04/2014 4:37:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 04, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On October 19th, a good place to watch Comet Siding Spring will be from Mars. Then, this inbound visitor (C/2013 A1) to the inner solar system, discovered in January 2013 by Robert McNaught at Australia's Siding Spring Observatory, will pass within 132,000 kilometers of the Red Planet. That's a near miss, equivalent to just over 1/3 the Earth-Moon distance. Great views of the comet for denizens of planet Earth's southern hemisphere are possible now, though. This telescopic snapshot from August 29 captured the comet's whitish coma and arcing dust tail sweeping through southern skies. The fabulous field of view...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M6: The Butterfly Cluster

    09/04/2014 4:33:28 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | September 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To some, the outline of the open cluster of stars M6 resembles a butterfly. M6, also known as NGC 6405, spans about 20 light-years and lies about 2,000 light years distant. M6, pictured above, can best be seen in a dark sky with binoculars towards the constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius), coving about as much of the sky as the full moon. Like other open clusters, M6 is composed predominantly of young blue stars, although the brightest star is nearly orange. M6 is estimated to be about 100 million years old. Determining the distance to clusters like M6 helps...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Holometer: A Microscope into Space and Time

    09/04/2014 4:29:41 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How different are space and time at very small scales? To explore the unfamiliar domain of the miniscule Planck scale -- where normally unnoticeable quantum effects might become dominant -- a newly developed instrument called the Fermilab Holometer has begun operating at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago, Illinois, USA. The instrument seeks to determine if slight but simultaneous jiggles of a mirror in two directions expose a fundamental type of holographic noise that always exceeds a minimum amount. Pictured above is one of the end mirrors of a Holometer prototype. Although the discovery of holographic noise...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Airglow Ripples over Tibet

    09/01/2014 12:50:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why would the sky look like a giant target? Airglow. Following a giant thunderstorm over Bangladesh in late April, giant circular ripples of glowing air appeared over Tibet, China, as pictured above. The unusual pattern is created by atmospheric gravity waves, waves of alternating air pressure that can grow with height as the air thins, in this case about 90 kilometers up. Unlike auroras powered by collisions with energetic charged particles and seen at high latitudes, airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light in a chemical reaction. More typically seen near the horizon, airglow keeps the night...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Space Shuttle and Space Station Photographed Together

    08/30/2014 11:05:59 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    NASA ^ | August 31, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last trip to the International Space Station in 2011 May, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views. The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Starry Sky under Hollow Hill

    08/30/2014 12:02:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 30, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Look up in New Zealand's Hollow Hill Cave and you might think you see a familiar starry sky. And that's exactly what Arachnocampa luminosa are counting on. Captured in this long exposure, the New Zealand glowworms scattered across the cave ceiling give it the inviting and open appearance of a clear, dark night sky filled with stars. Unsuspecting insects fooled into flying too far upwards get trapped in sticky snares the glowworms create and hang down to catch food. Of course professional astronomers wouldn't be so easily fooled, although that does look a lot like the Coalsack Nebula and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Wizard Nebula

    08/28/2014 10:03:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 29, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Open star cluster NGC 7380 is still embedded in its natal cloud of interstellar gas and dust popularly known as the Wizard Nebula. Seen with foreground and background stars along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy it lies some 8,000 light-years distant, toward the constellation Cepheus. A full moon would easily fit inside this telescopic view of the 4 million year young cluster and associated nebula, normally much too faint to be seen by eye. Made with telescope and camera firmly planted on Earth, the image reveals multi light-year sized shapes and structures within the Wizard in a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier 20 and 21

    08/28/2014 7:32:17 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | August 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The beautiful Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, is easy to find with a small telescope in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. About 5,000 light-years away, the colorful study in cosmic contrasts shares this well-composed, nearly 1 degree wide field with open star cluster Messier 21 (top right). Trisected by dust lanes the Trifid itself is about 40 light-years across and a mere 300,000 years old. That makes it one of the youngest star forming regions in our sky, with newborn and embryonic stars embedded in its natal dust and gas clouds. Estimates of the distance to open...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way over Yellowstone

    08/28/2014 7:20:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 27, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Milky Way was not created by an evaporating lake. The colorful pool of water, about 10 meters across, is known as Silex Spring and is located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA. Illuminated artificially, the colors are caused by layers of bacteria that grow in the hot spring. Steam rises off the spring, heated by a magma chamber deep underneath known as the Yellowstone hotspot. Unrelated and far in the distance, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy arches high overhead, a band lit by billions of stars. The above picture is a 16-image panorama taken...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Flying Past Neptune's Moon Triton

    08/28/2014 6:55:04 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | August 26, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What would it look like to fly past Triton, the largest moon of planet Neptune? Only one spacecraft has ever done this -- and now, for the first time, images of this dramatic encounter have been gathered into a movie. On 1989 August 25, the Voyager 2 spacecraft shot through the Neptune system with cameras blazing. Triton is slightly smaller than Earth's Moon but has ice volcanoes and a surface rich in frozen nitrogen. The first sequence in the video shows Voyager's approach to Triton, which, despite its unusual green tint, appears in approximately true color. The mysterious terrain...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Arp 188 and the Tadpole's Tail

    08/24/2014 9:23:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | August 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does this galaxy have such a long tail? In this stunning vista, based on image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive, distant galaxies form a dramatic backdrop for disrupted spiral galaxy Arp 188, the Tadpole Galaxy. The cosmic tadpole is a mere 420 million light-years distant toward the northern constellation Draco. Its eye-catching tail is about 280 thousand light-years long and features massive, bright blue star clusters. One story goes that a more compact intruder galaxy crossed in front of Arp 188 - from right to left in this view - and was slung around behind the Tadpole...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mercury's Transit: An Unusual Spot on the Sun

    08/24/2014 1:39:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that dot on the Sun? If you look closely, it is almost perfectly round. The dot is the result of an unusual type of solar eclipse that occurred in 2006. Usually it is the Earth's Moon that eclipses the Sun. This time, the planet Mercury took a turn. Like the approach to New Moon before a solar eclipse, the phase of Mercury became a continually thinner crescent as the planet progressed toward an alignment with the Sun. Eventually the phase of Mercury dropped to zero and the dark spot of Mercury crossed our parent star. The situation could...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Spectre of Veszprem

    08/23/2014 8:24:37 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The city of Veszprem, Hungary was only briefly haunted by this mysterious spectre. On the morning of August 11, its monstrous form hovered in the mist above municipal buildings near the town center. A clue to its true identity is offered by the photographer, though, who reports he took the picture from the top of a twenty story building with the rising Sun directly at his back. That special geometry suggests this is an example of an atmospheric phenomenon called the Glory or sometimes "the Spectre of the Brocken". Also seen from mountain tops and airplanes when looking opposite...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Jacques, Heart and Soul

    08/23/2014 8:13:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On July 13th, a good place to watch Comet Jacques was from Venus. Then, the recently discovered visitor (C/2014 E2) to the inner solar system passed within about 14.5 million kilometers of our sister planet. But the outbound comet will pass only 84 million kilometers from our fair planet on August 28 and is already a fine target for telescopes and binoculars. Two days ago Jacques' greenish coma and straight and narrow ion tail were captured in this telescopic snapshot, a single 2 minute long exposure with a modified digital camera. The comet is flanked by IC 1805 and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Venus and Jupiter at Dawn

    08/23/2014 8:06:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On Monday morning, Venus and Jupiter gathered close in dawn skies, for some separated by about half the width of a full moon. It was their closest conjunction since 2000, captured here above the eastern horizon before sunrise. The serene and colorful view is from Istia beach near the city of Capoliveri on the island of Elba. Distant lights and rolling hills are along Italy's Tuscan coast. Of course, the celestial pair soon wandered apart. Brighter Venus headed lower, toward the eastern horizon and the glare of the Sun, while Jupiter continues to rise a little higher now in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula

    08/23/2014 8:02:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | August 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, combines images...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Contrasting Terrains on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

    08/23/2014 7:58:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | August 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where should Philae land? As ESA's robotic spacecraft Rosetta circles toward Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a decision must eventually be made as to where its mechanical lander should attempt to touch-down. Reaching the comet earlier this month, Rosetta is sending back detailed pictures of the comet's unusual nucleus from which a smooth landing site will be selected. Pictured above, near the image top, the head of the comet's nucleus shows rugged grooves, while near the image bottom, the body shows a patch-work of areas sometimes separated by jagged hills. Some of the patch-work areas apparent on both the head and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Trails Over Indonesia

    08/18/2014 7:00:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Both land and sky were restless. The unsettled land included erupting Mount Semeru in the distance, the caldera of steaming Mount Bromo on the left, flowing fog, and the lights of moving cars along roads that thread between hills and volcanoes in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East Java, Indonesia. The stirring sky included stars circling the South Celestial Pole and a meteor streaking across the image right. The above 270-image composite was taken from King Kong Hill in mid-June over two hours, with a rising Moon lighting the landscape.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter and Venus from Earth

    08/17/2014 6:27:19 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 36 replies
    NASA ^ | August 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was visible around the world. The sunset conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2012 was visible almost no matter where you lived on Earth. Anyone on the planet with a clear western horizon at sunset could see them. Pictured above in 2012, a creative photographer traveled away from the town lights of Szubin, Poland to image a near closest approach of the two planets. The bright planets were separated only by three degrees and his daughter striking a humorous pose. A faint red sunset still glowed in the background. Early tomorrow (Monday) morning, the two planets will pass...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- No X-rays from SN 2014J

    08/16/2014 4:53:24 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Last January, telescopes in observatories around planet Earth were eagerly used to watch the rise of SN 2014J, a bright supernova in nearby galaxy M82. Still, the most important observations may have been from orbit where the Chandra X-ray Observatory saw nothing. Identified as a Type Ia supernova, the explosion of SN2014J was thought to be triggered by the buildup of mass on a white dwarf star steadily accreting material from a companion star. That model predicts X-rays would be generated when the supernova blastwave struck the material left surrounding the white dwarf. But no X-rays were seen from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Luminous Night

    08/15/2014 6:54:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What shines in the world at night? Just visible to the eye, a rare electric blue glow spread along the shores of Victoria Lake on January 16, 2013. Against reflections of a light near the horizon, this digitally stacked long exposure recorded the bioluminescence of Noctiluca scintillans, plankton stimulated by the lapping waves. Above, the night skies of the Gippsland Lakes region, Victoria, Australia shine with a fainter greenish airglow. Oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere, initially excited by ultraviolet sunlight, produce the more widely seen fading atmospheric chemiluminescence. Washed out by the Earth's rotation, the faint band of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Surreal Moon

    08/14/2014 8:11:00 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | August 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Big, bright, and beautiful, a Full Moon near perigee, the closest point in its elliptical orbit around our fair planet, rose on August 10. This remarkable picture records the scene with a dreamlike quality from the east coast of the United States. The picture is actually a composite of 10 digital frames made with exposures from 1/500th second to 1 second long, preserving contrast and detail over a much wider than normal range of brightness. At a perigee distance of a mere 356,896 kilometers, August's Full Moon was the closest, and so the largest and most super, of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rings Around the Ring Nebula

    08/14/2014 8:08:39 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is a familiar sight to sky enthusiasts with even a small telescope. There is much more to the Ring Nebula (M57), however, than can be seen through a small telescope. The easily visible central ring is about one light-year across, but this remarkably deep exposure - a collaborative effort combining data from three different large telescopes - explores the looping filaments of glowing gas extending much farther from the nebula's central star. This remarkable composite image includes narrowband hydrogen image, visible light emission, and infrared light emission. Of course, in this well-studied example of a planetary nebula, the...